I’ve been grappling with finding a way to talk and write about her. As an artistic researcher embedded in Western art and design institutional traditions, my default approach was to intellectually justify my mothers intentions. I thought that by writing about her life and conditions I was giving context to understand, accept her and appreciate her. (motivation letter for art school, sandberg fellowship, short stories)

But instead I objectified, her, took away her voice and replaced it with mine. Turned her into a study object for audiences in the West to pity, humanise and validate. It came from a place of protection. I realise that I had been doing that to myself too. I had used my own armour on her and it was ill-fitting. it did not feel right for either of us.

on top of that, I was struggling with deep resentment and anger towards her that were triggered by some of her drawings. After many months of discomfort i became conscious of the fact that i had haboured deep feelings of abandonment, neglect and rejection which manifested in anger as a child and evidently as an adult.

there were moments, where I felt like I couldn’t continue with this project until she recognises my pain and is willing to mend me too. I began this project thinking I should mend her, I as a daughter should put in the effort, but in fact I realised that I needed her to mend me too. Only during this project have I realised how much resentment I had carried and how important it is for me that she see and know my experiences.

many times we fought over her more politically charged imagery. I saw her depiction of the China US rivalry as a regurgitation of cold-war rhetoric, a simplistic narrative of victim/perpretator. I was angry that she saw China as completely innocent and US as completely responsible for all the evils of the world. There was no complexity in her narrative. And so coupled with my own unresolved emotions towards her, I met her with an antagonistic confrontation approach – of wanting to dismiss her world view. Needless to say, it didn’t work because I wanted to tear her world down, without fully understanding how that world was built.

There were months of silence and it was hurting me.

I had to get creative and find a way better way to enter her world, in order for me to let her see her world in a different world. Simply saying it was wrong was not working, because I wasn’t listening,

It took me a while but I had arrived at the idea of stepping into her world, her arena, her stories and conspiracies, and the way I would do is is through story-telling and immersion as deep listening.